Friday, August 21, 2015

GHF Summer Classic 6/21/15: Stadium and XC

Alright, the good stuff!

The rain had actually let up during my dressage warmup and throughout my test, but just as I got on Maggie to head out for jumping it started to spritz again. A heavy mist of sorts hung in the air, without it actually raining per se. It would have been a miserable day if it were cold, but the temperature was actually around 80 degrees. So at least we weren't freezing. Still, the grass was wet and that's what my main concern was. I didn't check to see if my dressage score was posted - for once I preferred not to know. I guess I figured that incase it put me in good standing, I wouldn't add any pressure onto myself to keep going if the jumping got sketchy.

What a nice guy, helping take the braids out!
There was no loudspeaker at the show, so I guessed a bit with my timing and I was hoping to get up to the stadium ring with just enough time to walk the course and then pop Maggie over the warm up jumps a couple times while the riders ahead of me went. Apparently I missed the opportunity to walk the course though (if there was one) so I took Maggie over the warmup jumps a few times before standing and watching a few riders go so as to memorize the course - fortunately I'm pretty good at memorizing courses from my dog agility days!

We trotted the cross rail in warmup and then I decided to just go for it and pick up the canter. Stadium itself was in a sand ring, but the warmup fences were on grass and even had a little terrain around them that you needed to navigate. I figured it would be a good opportunity to test out the ground conditions and see how the wet grass affected us. To my surprise and delight, it didn't appear to affect us at all. There was no slipping and I felt comfortable at the canter - that made be feel better about the upcoming XC for sure! Despite feeling fine with the footing, I could not get a good distance to any of the warmup fences. After trying a few times, I just called it quits since it wouldn't do me any good to tire Maggie out in the warmup.

The stadium course itself was very straight forward and the height actually looked tiny. However, there was some nice slop in front of a few of the fences. We started out on a good foot, but then at fence 4 Maggie took a good look at the fence for some reason and dropped back behind my leg. I was able to egg her on enough to get over the fence without stopping and then we wiggled our way to fence 5 where I got a little left behind, but no worse for the wear.

And then fence 7...I don't even know what happened... See for yourself:


I think she tried to take a long spot and slipped? Or decided she couldn't? Let's see that again in slow motion...and in GIF form:



Frankly, I'm surprised we only took down one rail instead of the entire jump. As we trotted away from it I made sure that Maggie felt ok underneath me, which she did, and decided to proceed to the last jump which was comparatively uneventful.

I was a little bit shaken by totally eating that jump, but I made sure I paid attention to how Maggie was feeling as we walked down the hill to the XC start. She seemed fine, so we proceeded.

We got a count down from the start "box" steward, even though the course was untimed. I tried my darnedest to get Maggie in front of my leg and going enough to get over the first fence...but it wasn't quite enough. Remember how I said I had a hunch that she would spook at those pretty flowers? Yup. Refusal at fence 1. Awesome. We made a circle and she bunny-hopped over it the second time, fortunately.

Maggie ended up being pretty behind my leg for the first part of the  course and kept wanting to drop back to the trot. She proceeded to bunny hop the second fence and I think I said aloud before fence 3, "OK, can you please jump like a real horse now??"

Looking (sort of) like pros.
Photo by Flatlands Photography, used with permission
Aside from being a little sticky, we had no other trouble for the rest of the course. It took until around fence 5 for her to really get the idea that yes, in fact I was going to insist that she go over all the jumps, and for her to actually go forward to the fence instead of sucking back. 

Fence 7
Photo by Nature of Light Photography, used with permission
BUT WE COMPLETED!

Dan got the first two and last two fences on video:


I was bummed she refused the first fence, but we were able to keep on and get more confident with each fence - that's really all I can ask for at this stage. By the time we reached the "monstrosity" that was the last fence, I knew she would do it. Someday we'll get to the point where she has the same gusto on course at an event as she does when we're jumping at home or XC schooling. For now though, it's all about confidence building.

Photo by Sophia Bitel

I swear she could make time at a rated BN with that power trot though. It's pretty ridiculous.

Fence 8, Photo by Sophia Bitel
And I seriously wish I could get my equitation under control. Learning to release would be nice, for one. Alas...things to work on. 

Dan had checked the scores on our way back to the trailer after XC and reported back that I was in second place after dressage on a 35.8! I was pretty impressed with that actually, and very pleased. However, I knew that my rail in stadium and then refusal on XC probably ended up taking us out of the ribbons. Indeed, it did, but hey - we still completed and I was (and am) still stoked about that. It's honestly been a dream of mine to ride XC on the Groton House grounds and even doing so at the lowest level counts. 


Later that day after Maggie had been taken care of and we were back home, Dan commented that I was in a rather good mood for not coming home with a ribbon. He's only ever seen me place, so he was expecting me to be upset or disappointed. I learned a while ago though (again, in my dog agility days) that success can be defined in many different ways. Especially with animals. It's not just win or lose - it's did you have a positive experience and did your horse (or dog as it was when I first learned these lessons) try their hardest for you? For this event, the answer to that is most certainly yes. And that's success in my book.

Success

8 comments:

  1. Omg that power trot! Some of my best learning experiences and valuable miles in the show ring came without any ribbons.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Congrats on completing! Still a big accomplishment. And yeah, I always got through my agility walks faster because of all my years walking stadium! Pretty funny how those skills don't go away.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Awesome pictures! You could do endurance with that trot...

    ReplyDelete
  4. woo hoo congrats! and wow your photographer caught some really beautiful moments (that trot!!!). love your attitude too. it can be really hard to recover from an iffy jump, esp in questionable conditions - but looks like you really helped Maggie stick with it and ultimately click into gear. nice job!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Looks like you guys got a killer Dressage score! Well done.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes to all of it! I'm totally with you on the way to view horse show success. My horse has only been to two and the first was sketchy--we ended up only doing one class and the second was much better. We rode in five (I think). He tried so hard despite being incredibly green/nervous.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes to all of it! I'm totally with you on the way to view horse show success. My horse has only been to two and the first was sketchy--we ended up only doing one class and the second was much better. We rode in five (I think). He tried so hard despite being incredibly green/nervous.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes to all of it! I'm totally with you on the way to view horse show success. My horse has only been to two and the first was sketchy--we ended up only doing one class and the second was much better. We rode in five (I think). He tried so hard despite being incredibly green/nervous.

    ReplyDelete